Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Defendant Ryan Hamann drove while under the influence of alcohol and was arrested. The State charged him with felony DUII because defendant had two previous DUII convictions; defendant had been convicted of DUII in Georgia in 2007, and then again in Clackamas County, Oregon in 2010. Defendant argued on appeal of his conviction that, once he proved the Georgia conviction was constitutionally invalid, the trial court’s imposition of any additional consequence on him based on that conviction was inconsistent with his right to counsel, as articulated in City of Pendleton v. Standerfer, 688 P2d 68 (1984). The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the trial court correctly relied on the Georgia conviction to revoke defendant’s driving privileges as a civil disability (not a criminal punishment) and that the revocation was consistent with defendant’s right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. View "Oregon v. Hamann" on Justia Law

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The factual issue at trial was whether, as the State contended, defendant Thomas Bray forcibly raped, sodomized, strangled and assaulted J, or, as defendant claimed, J’s injuries resulted from consensual “rough sex.” A preliminary legal issue was whether defendant could compel the production of evidence that he viewed as supportive of his position. After the encounter with defendant, J had used her computer to conduct a Google search and make journal entries about defendant and the encounter. Defendant sought to compel the production of that digital data: Defendant filed a motion to compel the State to use its authority under the federal Stored Communications Act (the SCA)to obtain J’s records from Google, and he issued a subpoena duces tecum requiring J to appear at trial and bring her computer with her. The trial court granted defendant’s motion to compel, and, after some time and a number of hearings, the state eventually sent Google a subpoena for the records. Google did not comply; it took the position that a search warrant was required. Frustrated with what he viewed as the state’s defiance of the court’s order and refusal to do what was necessary to get the Google information, defendant moved to dismiss the charges against him. The court, unhappy with the State’s delay and “resistance or reluctance” to comply with its order, but satisfied that the State had done all that the court could direct it to do, informed the parties that it would not require the State to obtain a search warrant and denied defendant’s motion to dismiss. The court then conducted a bench trial. J testified, but she did not produce her computer in response to defendant’s subpoena. On cross-examination, J told the court that she had “flattened” her computer and that it therefore no longer contained digital information. The court denied defendant’s motion for an order requiring J to bring the computer to court for a forensic examination and, at the trial’s completion, found defendant guilty. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of “defendant’s motion to compel the state to obtain J’s internet information” and its denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss. However, it determined the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to enforce the subpoena duces tecum, vacated defendant’s convictions, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. On appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, defendant challenged the Court of Appeals’ rulings with respect to the Google records and the State’s failure to obtain them. The State also petitioned for review, challenging the Court of Appeals’ ruling with respect to defendant’s subpoena and its conclusion that defendant’s convictions must be vacated and the case remanded. The Supreme Court determined the trial court erred in failing to require J to produce her computer for forensic examination. “J’s computer could have contained evidence that could have provided for an effective cross-examination of J, who was the key witness in the state’s case.” The Court determined the trial court’s error was not harmless, and therefore defendant’s convictions were vacated, and the case remanded to the trial court to order J to produce her computer and subject it to forensic examination. View "Oregon v. Bray" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review centered on defendant’s challenge under Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, to a warrant that authorized the search, seizure, and examination of his computer. Police investigated the injury of defendant Kaliq Mansor’s infant son while in defendant’s care; the infant later died at the hospital. Defendant told the police that his son had struggled to breathe and that he had used his computer to look online for first aid advice before calling 9-1-1. For that and other reasons, police seized and then searched defendant’s computer as part of their investigation. The forensic examination of the computer found internet search history shortly before the 9-1-1 call that was generally consistent with defendant’s statements, but the examination also revealed that defendant had visited websites and entered search terms related to the abuse of infants several times in the months and weeks prior to the infant’s death. The trial court denied defendant’s motion to suppress the latter evidence, and defendant was convicted of murder and other crimes. The Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, concluding that the warrant authorizing the search of the computer violated the particularity requirement of Article I, section 9, because it permitted the examination of everything on defendant’s computer. The Supreme Court affirmed, differing in some respects from the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court concluded that the application of Article I, section 9, to warranted searches of personal electronic devices required a test that protected an individual’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures while also recognizing the government’s lawful authority to obtain evidence in criminal investigations, including through searches of digital data. “We acknowledge that, for practical reasons, searches of computers are often comprehensive and therefore are likely to uncover information that goes beyond the probable cause basis for the warrant. In light of that fact, to protect the right to privacy and to avoid permitting the digital equivalent of general warrants, we also hold that Article I, section 9, prevents the state from using evidence found in a computer search unless a valid warrant authorized the search for that particular evidence, or it is admissible under an exception to the warrant requirement.” View "Oregon v. Mansor" on Justia Law

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Defendant Andre Swan was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) and advised of his Miranda rights. In response, he invoked his right to counsel. Afterwards, the arresting officer asked defendant 28 DUII interview questions, then asked if he would consent to a breath test. Defendant moved to suppress his answers to the 28 questions and all derivative evidence, which he argued included his decision to take the breath test and the test results. The state conceded that asking defendant 28 DUII interview questions after he had invoked his right to counsel violated Article I, section 12, of the Oregon Constitution. However, the state took the position that suppressing the officer’s questions and defendant’s answers was sufficient to vindicate that right. The Court of Appeals agreed and also observed that asking defendant for consent to take a breath test did not constitute “interrogation” under Article I, section 12. The Oregon Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals: "If our only choice in fashioning a remedy for the violation of a defendant’s Article I, section 12, right is either to undercorrect for the violation of the defendant’s constitutional right or to overcorrect for that violation by denying the state a statutorily created benefit, [Oregon v.] Spencer [672 P2d 1182 (1083)] makes clear that the state’s loss of a statutory benefit is a necessary consequence of remedying the state’s violation of the defendant’s constitutional right. ... we conclude that the breath test results should have been suppressed as a product of the violation of defendant’s Article I, section 12, right to counsel." View "Oregon v. Swan" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Kipland Kinkel pled guilty to four counts of murder and 25 counts of attempted murder, and pled no contest to a twenty-sixth count of attempted murder. On May 20, 1998, when petitioner was 15 years old, he was sent home from high school for bringing a gun to school. Later that day, he shot his father once in the head. Afterwards, he shot his mother five times in the head and once in the heart. He went to school the following day and shot and killed two students and wounded dozens more. In this post-conviction proceeding, petitioner argued that, because he was a juvenile when he committed his crimes, the Eighth Amendment prohibited the imposition of an aggregate sentence that was the functional equivalent of a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Petitioner’s federal argument entails primarily three issues: (1) whether, as a matter of state law, petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim was procedurally barred; (2) if it was, whether Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S Ct 718 (2016), required the Oregon Supreme Court to reach petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim despite the existence of that state procedural bar; and (3) if petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim was not procedurally barred, whether and how Miller v. Alabama, 567 US 460 (2012), applied when a court imposed an aggregate sentence for multiple crimes committed by a juvenile. The Oregon Supreme Court held that, even if ORS 138.550(2) did not pose a procedural bar to petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim, his claim failed on the merits. The Oregon Court concluded that the facts in this case, coupled with the sentencing court’s findings, brought petitioner within the narrow class of juveniles who, as Miller recognized, could be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. View "Kinkel v. Persson" on Justia Law

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Initiative Petition (IP) 28, if enacted, would modify Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution to permit either a legislative body or the people exercising their initiative power to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. In this case’s first trip to the Oregon Supreme Court, the ballot title for IP 28 the Attorney General for modification. The Attorney General filed a modified ballot title, and the two sets of petitioners who challenged the original ballot title challenged the modified title. Among other things, petitioners challenged the ballot title’s unqualified use of the word “regulate.” They noted, and we agreed, that “the word ‘regulate,’ when used in the context of regulating expressive activity, can encompass a range of different types of regulations.” Petitioners objected to the modified ballot title, arguing among other things that it failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s opinion because it did not signal that “regulate” was undefined. The Supreme Court agreed that the changes the Attorney General made in the caption and “yes” result statement were not sufficient. “We appreciate the difficulty that the Attorney General faces in trying to accurately describe the nuances of complex measures in a limited amount of words. However, we reiterate what we previously said: the caption and the ‘yes’ result statement should state that the word regulate is undefined.” The modified ballot title was referred to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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In April 2017, defendant Zachary Ball was charged by indictment with six Class C felonies. Appellant, who was a crime victim, filed a claim in the trial court, pursuant to ORS 147.515, alleging that the trial court violated her right to be heard when it sentenced the defendant who had committed crimes against her. In December 2017, the trial court facilitated settlement negotiations between the prosecutor and defendant, who was represented by counsel. Although appellant did not participate in those negotiations, she sat in the hallway outside the room where the negotiations occurred, and the prosecutor consulted with her before ultimately agreeing with defendant to terms of a plea and sentencing. The sentencing hearing took place in January 2018; appellant attended. Appellant was given approximately twenty minutes to deliver her statement; thereafter, defendant was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment and 32 months’ post-prison supervision for attempted assault in the second degree, 18 months’ imprisonment and 24 months post-prison supervision for assault in the fourth degree, to be served concurrently, and 60 months’ probation for coercion. Upon receipt of appellant’s claim, the trial court held a hearing. The trial court acknowledged that it had interrupted appellant’s victim impact statement twice and stopped appellant before she had the opportunity to complete her statement. As to both of the interruptions and the termination of appellant’s statement, the trial court stated that its objective had been “to focus on the statements that [appellant] wanted to say and how she felt about it, and about the crimes that * ** defendant was convicted of.” The Oregon Supreme Court held a trial court has the authority and responsibility to conduct a sentencing hearing in an orderly and expeditious manner and may exclude certain statements by victims, including those that are irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial, or cumulative. In addition, a trial court may limit a victim impact statement if the victim disregards the trial court’s appropriate instructions regarding the content or length of the statement. In this case, the trial court’s interruptions of appellant’s statement, which were for the permissible purpose of having appellant focus on the charged crimes and her own experiences with the defendant, did not violate appellant’s right to be heard. However, the trial court’s termination of appellant’s statement, when appellant was discussing a relevant topic that was not outside the limits imposed by the trial court, did violate appellant’s right to be heard. Therefore, the Court reversed the trial court’s decision denying appellant’s claim, vacated defendant’s sentence, and remanded the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing. View "Oregon v. Ball" on Justia Law

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Defendant Gregory Stewart knocked on a woman’s door early one morning. The woman thought she recognized defendant and let him inside her apartment. Shortly thereafter, the woman realized she had mistaken defendant for someone else, but she did not ask him to leave. Instead, the two sat in the living room and smoked marijuana. Defendant made the woman uncomfortable and later followed her to her bedroom, prompting the woman to ask defendant to leave. The woman refused defendant’s request to stay, he asked for sandwich bags. Defendant commented that he “needed to make some money,” removed a bag from his pocket, and went into the bathroom, where he spilled a substance on the floor. When defendant finished in the bathroom, he used the woman’s phone to call for a ride. Defendant said she could have whatever remained of the substance on her floor and left. The woman then called 9-1-1, reporting that defendant spilled a “white, powdery substance” on her bathroom floor, asked if she or anyone that she knew wanted to “buy some” of the substance, and stated several times that he “needed to make some money.” Police located defendant near the apartment, discovering small bags containing methamphetamine on defendant and arrested him. Police also determined that the substance on the bathroom floor was methamphetamine and, after transporting defendant, found a glove containing methamphetamine in their patrol car. Defendant was charged with various crimes, including unlawful delivery of methamphetamine. In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that to prove that a delivery “is for consideration” under ORS 475.900 (2)(a) and that an enhanced sentence is therefore merited, the state is required to offer evidence that a defendant either entered into an agreement to sell or completed a sale of the specified drugs. The Court held that evidence a defendant possessed the drugs with the intent to sell them is insufficient. The Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, and remanded this case for resentencing. View "Oregon v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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Defendant Gregory Stewart knocked on a woman’s door early one morning. The woman thought she recognized defendant and let him inside her apartment. Shortly thereafter, the woman realized she had mistaken defendant for someone else, but she did not ask him to leave. Instead, the two sat in the living room and smoked marijuana. Defendant made the woman uncomfortable and later followed her to her bedroom, prompting the woman to ask defendant to leave. The woman refused defendant’s request to stay, he asked for sandwich bags. Defendant commented that he “needed to make some money,” removed a bag from his pocket, and went into the bathroom, where he spilled a substance on the floor. When defendant finished in the bathroom, he used the woman’s phone to call for a ride. Defendant said she could have whatever remained of the substance on her floor and left. The woman then called 9-1-1, reporting that defendant spilled a “white, powdery substance” on her bathroom floor, asked if she or anyone that she knew wanted to “buy some” of the substance, and stated several times that he “needed to make some money.” Police located defendant near the apartment, discovering small bags containing methamphetamine on defendant and arrested him. Police also determined that the substance on the bathroom floor was methamphetamine and, after transporting defendant, found a glove containing methamphetamine in their patrol car. Defendant was charged with various crimes, including unlawful delivery of methamphetamine. In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that to prove that a delivery “is for consideration” under ORS 475.900 (2)(a) and that an enhanced sentence is therefore merited, the state is required to offer evidence that a defendant either entered into an agreement to sell or completed a sale of the specified drugs. The Court held that evidence a defendant possessed the drugs with the intent to sell them is insufficient. The Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, and remanded this case for resentencing. View "Oregon v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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Defendant Israel Tena, Jr. was convicted of felony fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence. On appeal, he challenged the admission of evidence that he had previously assaulted two other intimate partners within the last 14 years. The state argued that the evidence was admissible to prove intent, and the Court of Appeals agreed. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the evidence of the two prior incidents of domestic violence were impermissible character evidence. Therefore, the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals. View "Oregon v. Tena" on Justia Law